On the Church calendar there are only a few days left. Advent marks the beginning of the new year. Advent is a preparatory season. It has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ’s birth, and for the time of the Christ’s return. The earliest historical evidence indicates that the feast of the “Nativity of Our Lord” was started the later part of the 4th century. There are sermons from the 5th century that discuss preparation in a general sense, but do not indicate an official season. A Synod or Conference of Congregations was held in 590 and established that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from November 11th until the Nativity would be offered according to the Lenten rite – the earliest season of the Church. This and other traditions, such as fasting, show that the period of time now established as the Advent season was more penitential than the season as we know it today. That would explain the lack of popularity today.
People don’t want to feel bad. I would say that there is a difference between “feeling bad” about yourself and true humility. I’ve always that that the twelve steps of AA were uniquely appropriate for all of us as we rehabilitate from our self-centeredness. The first step is (in my Advent re-write): 1. We admit we were powerless over self-centeredness – and our lives have become unmanageable.
That is a humility that recognizes the need for a spiritual power beyond ourselves that we rely on to make this a better world. Selfishness will only bring us grief and personal dissatisfaction. So over the next few days I’m going to think about the twelve steps as it relates to the upcoming season of Advent. Getting ready spiritually has far more value than getting your house decorated or lots of credit card debt. Give everyone around you the gift that is you – the true you – the you that gives from the heart and not just the pocketbook.